The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is set to vote tomorrow on whether or not to re-classify the Internet as a public utility, which can be protected and regulated through federal authority.
Why does this matter to you, oh-average-unassuming-consumer?
Because this decision is a game changer for net neutrality.
Net neutrality is the concept that all Internet traffic is created equally. In other words, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can’t slow down or speed up traffic depending on how much websites pay up.
Unfortunately, an earlier court decision eradicated the FCC’s authority to regulate the Internet and preserve net neutrality. This opens the door to ISPs (like Comcast and AT&T) charging web content providers (Netflix, Amazon, etc.) for reliable and fast web access.
Now, two possible outcomes can occur here: 1.) a website operator can’t afford to pay up, and so their traffic is slowed down by comparison–and you, as a consumer, are effectively censored from various web content, or 2.) website operator’s pay up to the ISPs, only to pass down the extra payment to you in the form of markups and fees.
Not a bright outlook, huh?
Fortunately, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has proposed rules to re-classify the Internet as a utility under the Telecommunications Act. That would give the FCC power to enforce consumer protections, preserve competition in the market, and ensure universal access to a free and open Internet.
So, pop quiz: Do you like censorship? Do you like paying more for Internet access?
If you answered “no” to either of these questions, tomorrow’s FCC vote on net neutrality couldn’t matter more. Stay tuned to CUB’s WatchBlog for updated information on this issue.
And we have to extend a big THANK YOU to the 3,000+ CUB Action Network who sent a message to the FCC demanding protection for the free and open Internet!